A right to assistance pets

Under established disabled-rights law, store owners and other business people very seldom have a right to exclude the “service animals” that accompany blind and deaf visitors. Relatively few inconveniences ensue, in part because such animals tend to be few and extremely well trained. However, the idea has begun to catch on that persons disabled in other ways also have a right to the company of assistance animals; California regulators issued such a ruling as to dogs two years ago. Now a rapidly rising number of San Francisco residents are applying for tags for assistance dogs; the city has issued 658 tags for them. “‘The bottom line is that we’re seeing a lot of people come down here with notes from their doctors saying they need a companion dog to improve their quality of life,” said Carl Friedman, director of the city animal control agency. ‘Now we’re seeing a lot of people applying for the tags who have psychological issues.”’ Landlords and restaurants are not allowed to enforce no-dog policies against a registered animal. As for the pets’ required “training”, that “can be done by the owner and can be as simple as teaching the dog to wag a tail and lick a face if that’s what it takes to make someone with a diagnosed depression feel better.” (Rachel Gordon, “‘Assistance dog’ designation opens doors for pooches”, San Francisco Chronicle, Oct. 19). We were on to this trend very early: see Jul. 9, 1999.


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  • […] that legally protected status be accorded to “emotional-assistance” animals, see Oct. 25 and Dec. 2, 2004. For more cases in which disabled-rights-in-housing have led to noisy results, see […]

  • […] 12, 2005 (frequent-filing Californian); May 5, 2005 (Seattle grocery store owner fined $21,000); Oct. 25, 2004 (if you want to bring your pet into a San Francisco restaurant, get a note from your doctor); Dec. […]